Thursday, August 27, 2009

Wanaka Enviroschool Cluster Meeting

I got together with Wanaka, Hawea Flat and Makarora Primaries last night at Sailz Cafe in Lake Hawea to discus what we are doing in school at the moment in relation to Enviroschools and anything else connected with sustainability. Sailz Cafe very kindly offered to shout us the coffee too, what an amazing gesture, so remember the next time you're hanging out in Lake Hawea, pop in there for a cuppa and support them.

We had a fabulous meeting and discussed heaps of stuff. We started off talking about the Eco-Hut Challenge. All of these schools are registered and work is getting underway. We were amazed by tales of the students investigations at Wanaka Primary. Some of the students are designing and building their own solar water panels, another class has built model buildings out of rolled up newspapers, sketch up club is still a buzz at lunchtime.....Great work guys!

Hawea Flat are about to launch their travel cards as part of their work towards the school travel plan. Kerry from Wanaka Primary was really impressed with this idea, she's also seen it as part of a walking school bus in another school. So I'm going to create some cards for them as they get their walking school buses back into action this spring.

350 was also a hot topic of conversation. We think that the 23rd of October is going to be the Upper Clutha School Sports Day. So with this in mind, it looks like we are going to have all the schools together anyway on that day! How lucky is that? So......the plan....we were thinking that it would be really cool if we could put out the challenge to everyone that between us we all walk or run 350km during lunch time. Each school will be designated a certain distance that they have to run or walk and it's down to them to make it happen between themselves.

We also loved the idea from one of the students at Hawea Flat about making a soup from 350 locally sourced vegetables. With all those children we may need a little more than that, so....another idea from Kerry was to draw a 350km radius around Wanaka and create a lunch sourced from food that can be grown within that distance. Anyone know any chefs willing to do a super cool massive lunch? Keep your eyes peeled, this is going to be AWESOME!

The other plan that we are trying to hatch is how the schools can have a stall at the Wanaka A&P show in March next year to showcase all the actions they've taken for the environment as well as them holding workshops to teach the community how to make some of the fabulous products they've been producing.

We're going to have our next meeting around week 5 term 4 and we're going to see if we can get all the other Wanaka schools involved......Great work everyone, I'm so proud of all the work that is being done in our town!

Grime Seen Investigations

I've got yet another super cool project from Ivy (, The Third Fiddle in the Department of Dreams and Ideas down here at Wanaka Wasteusters. So here we go, over to Ivy......

Have you ever been walking, biking, driving along enjoying some of the fine scenery this country has to offer, when there in front of you is the eyesore of someone’s discarded chip packets, empty bottles, fast food wrappers…. Well, we at Wanaka Wastebusters have had enough and have decided to do something about it.

We are starting a campaign to put the pressure on brand owners to take more responsibility for what happens to their products right up to the end of their life. We want you to join us.

During Keep New Zealand Beautiful week, people are focusing on picking up litter. We want to focus on exactly what brands litter is being picked up. We need to gather a whole lot more information and we need your help.

We have created an experiment to find out exactly what rubbish is being dropped.

Which are the most common brands?

Here are two ways you can help:

  • Do a litter clean-up before Sept 4th, keep a record of your findings and email them back to me.
  • If you are doing a litter clean-up as part of Keep New Zealand Beautiful week, keep a record of your findings and email them to me at the end of the KNZB week.

(If you are in the Wanaka Area you can bring your waste collected to Wanaka Wastebusters and I can sort through it for you)

In this pack when you open the attachments above you will find

  • A ‘How to’ conduct the experiment fact sheet.
  • A results page for you to record your results
  • A link at the top of the page to a short film we made at Wanaka Wastebusters to get your creative juices flowing and inspire you with how much fun it can be.

So grab your friends, work buddies, family, anyone who is keen to help and get yourself out there. Let’s join together and make ourselves heard.

Email me if you are interested in taking part. I can also help with a media release of your results for your local area once the experiment is completed.

You can download the instructions here and you can download the recording sheet here.

Have fun out there with this awesome project, and if you need any more inspiration check out this super cool video that Ivy and some of our other team members made, it ROCKS!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Grandma Prisbrey's Bottle Village

Imagine a whole village built from old bottles......wouldn't that be cool? Well that's exactly what Grandma Prisbrey thought, so she built one. Check out the website
about this amazing village made out of old discarded bottles.

The colours are amazing, especially as the light shines through and I'll bet the walls have a really
high 'R' value. All you have to do is plug up the gaps and hope there are no earthquakes.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Some Climate Change Resources

Planet Green have put together a page of resources that can be used to talk about climate change in school. It's a little Americanised, however there are a few stunning video clips that are available to be watched for free via the wonderful Internet.

Who wants to go for a walk through an eco town?

I've stumbled across a really nice short animation about what it may be like to walk through a fururistic "Eco-Town". It's a little tongue in cheek and perfect to watch over a quick cuppa.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

More Building Inspiration

Another super cool building article on Tree Hugger......This time it's a floating spaceframe home....check it out here....

Friday, August 21, 2009

Keep New Zealand Beautiful Week

Keep New Zealand Beautiful Week is fast approaching.

This year it is happening between 4th-11th September You can get involved along with the rest of New Zealand and join in the national clean-up.

You can do a clean-up at anytime during the week. Get a group together. Friends, classmates, workmates. Your group can be any size large or small.

Choose an area you enjoy spending time in and has litter laying around. A favourite walk! a favourite play place!

Get in touch with Ivy at Wanaka Wastebusters and she can help choose a place with you and also make sure no two groups do the same place twice.

Wanaka Wastebusters is the KNZB co-ordinator this year for the Wanaka area. This means we will have a supply of bags and gloves for you to use for collecting the litter.

Before the day of your clean up come and see me and i can give you as many bags and gloves as you will need.

Afterwards bring all the bags back to Wanaka Wastebusters so we can keep a record of how much is collected and dispose of them for you.

Check out the KNZB website for more details about how the national campaign is going.

Ivy ( can't wait to hear from you all

Thursday, August 20, 2009

350 Aotearoa Tour Hits Wanaka

Hopefully by now most of you reading this will have heard of the 350 campaign. Just in case.....350 is a global grass roots movement, started by Bill McKibben, to not only raise awareness about climate change and global warming but to also inspire real action, by us, the residents of planet Earth to do something about the causes of the problems we have to deal with now and the future.

So why 350? Some of the worlds top scientists, including James Hansen of America's National Aeronautics and Space Administration (as in NASA), agree that if we wish to continue to live on planet Earth with no rise in temperature we need to keep the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million or less. As the world leaders prepare to congregate in Copenhagen in December of this year to decide what emissions rates we need to set globally it is increasingly important for us, community, to show our support for big emissions reductions.

Bill McKibben talks about us needing to do 3 things to tackle climate change, he also tells us that we need to do all three.
  1. Make as many personal changes you can to reduce your emissions; drive less, reduce power use, consume less etc.
  2. Work actively within your community for change at a local level.
  3. Join a grass roots global movement that holds our leaders accountable to the latest climate science.
To help demonstrate to the world how serious we all are there is a global day of action being planned for Saturday 24th October.

To keep it local, a group of very concerned, yet very positively motivated people from around the country have started 350 Aotearoa. Working with the same kaupapa of we are aiming to show New Zealand, and the world that we care and are prepared to do something about the problem.

We've just been visited by four members of the 350 Aotearoa team who are doing a national tour to help raise awareness about the campaign and inspire some actions on the 24th October. You can follow their tour here. Aaron, Rebeka, Fiona and Bart are awesome, they have so much drive and energy. You fellas rock! Make sure you check out where they are going next and ensure that you can jam with them when they are passing through your town.

We visited three schools in Wanaka, Wanaka Primary, Hawea Flat and Mount Aspiring College and Sophie from Sustainable Wanaka organised an evening meeting so the Wanaka community could decide upon what action they would like to take on the 24th.

Since nobody goes to school on a Saturday, 350 Aotearoa are planning a school day of action on the 23rd of October. One of the purposes of their tour is to go along to schools to inspire our students into taking action with tales of all the fantastic actions that are already happening around the country and the world.

Looking through the web sites you will see lots of pictures of people coming together and forming the shape of 350 and having that image captured. I really like this idea of showing that we care. By being part of these pictures we are showing support for taking real action against climate change.
At each of the schools the team did a fantastic presentation of what was going on and then we moved onto some action. Inspired by a video made at the Pacific Island Youth Forum, we all stood in front of the 350 banner and chanted "If not NOW then WHEN? If not US then WHO? If not EARTH then WHERE? Wanaka Primary support the movement!" Obviously we changed the school name for different schools.

After this super cool action we moved outside to form the giant 350! Again, this was videoed would have been rather sedate without some kind of noise and ruckus. Every one who is part of the 3 shouted three, the 5's shouted five, and you guessed it, the 0's shouted zero, followed by everyone shouting 350 for life!

It was incredible to see. Keep an eye peeled on the website for these videos when they are uploaded. Now we are all inspired we have to keep this momentum going. We've had some great ideas from the schools. Make a soup from 350 locally grown vegetables, have a 350 song competition.....the list goes on. I know I'm going to be rather busy working with everyone to bring these ideas together and do what I can to ensure we show the world that we here in our community and schools are ready and willing to embrace the changes we need to make to allow our planet to remain habitable for many generations to come! Let's have some fun, I did mention that didn't I? This is about having lots and lots of fun, all of us coming together and rejoicing! We can do it, especially if we all support each other across our community, country and planet.

Nga mihi nui o 350 Aoteroa!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

New Enviroschools Kit Workshop

The Otago Enviroschools team held the first of the workshops to introduce teachers to the new Enviroschools kit. It was held at the awesome Skeggs Gallery and we had a fantastic attendance from primary and secondary schools around the Dunedin area.

Tania and Davina lead a great session exploring the major parts of the new kit. As I'm sure you've noticed the new kit only covers the theme area Me in My Environment, you need to keep hold of your old kit to use the other theme areas.

To help us understand how the Action Learning Cycle works, the new kit has been split into sections which refer to each of the four sections of the ALC. The taking action section has been really ramped up. Remember this is such an important part of the Enviroschools process. We can learn heaps about the environment, but this knowledge is really cemented if we take action to regenerate our environment.

As with all things new it's always good to have a point to your exploration. We split into groups and each group was asked to find an answer to a scenario and then report back to the rest of the group about what they were looking for and where they found it.

Jenny lead a session about the new awards scheme and had a fabulous piece of blue material to represent the awa that is our enviroschools journey. I think the new award framework is such a fantastic way of getting to grips with the Enviroschools process and really helps schools see what wonderful work they have done and also highlights the areas they need to cover.

Anne and I lead a session about, the Enviroschools initiate for us to measure the resources we are saving. This is very valuable information. As funding is increasingly removed from Education for Sustainability information about how much energy was saved, how much waste was diverted from landfill, how much extra green space was added to school grounds.....all helps demonstrate to the politicians and bean counters what a marvelous programme Enviroschools is. It's also a great way to show the students that their actions have not only saved resources but also saved school money.

After digging through web site we split into two groups to have a closer look at some of the activities contained with the Measuring Change kit. These were really successful and prompted lots of lively discussion about how these projects could be executed at school.

Nathan Parker, principal of Warringotn school gave a very informative presentation about Ubuntu, a Linux based operating system that can be installed on computers without a licence fee. This is part of the ever expanding open source software available on the Internet. For most of your needs in school you can find open source software to take the place of many popular office applications, as well as photo and video software. The beauty of open source is that it is free! It's also very often coded so well that it doesn't require the latest and greatest hardware. Have a look on Google for more information about Ubuntu and where to download it from.

After lunch it was time to hear from Maureen from Sustainable Living in Dunedin. The Sustainable Living programme is kind of like Enviroschool for adults. Have a look through their web site to find out full details of what this fantastic course offers. For this afternoon session we were treated to a chemistry lesson on how to make cleaners from natural ingredients such as baking soda, vinegar, lemons...the list goes on.

Unfortunately it was a final farewell for a few of our Otago Enviroschools team. Tania McClean and Davina Hunt are moving onto pastures new and Trisha Korth is disappearing to Antartica for the rest of the school year to do some fantastic marine research. Good luck to all of you, you'll be sorely missed.

We will be running this workshop in Central in October, keep your eyes peeled for the invitation in your inbox soon.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Eco-Hut Challenge - Building Experts

One of the great ways to find out about sustainable building is to get the experts in. We are very lucky here in Wanaka to have some fabulous sustainable building experts working at Sustainable Wanaka. Sophie, Jess and Audrey came down to Wanaka Primary to talk to the students about sustainability, how it relates to building and in turn how that fits in with developing a sustainable community.

Sophie spoke about general sustainability within the home and the kind of things we need to think about. How do we use our water? Can some of our waste grey water be used again? Energy use within the home and how can the design of our home influence how much power we use? How do all these building materials get to us here in Wanaka? Can we find more locally produced materials to cut down on transport? Can home and garden design help us deal with some of our waste products?

Jess and Audrey delved deeper into building design. What is passive solar heating and how can we change our design to let the sun work as our heater? Once the building is warm how can we sue insulation to keep it warm? They had some awesome photographs of unusual building materials. Sustainable design is about making the most of what you have to hand. Can we use resources from a waste stream to build your building from? Not only will you save natural resources doing this, you also save so much energy and effort that would be needed to transport the fresh materials to you from the manufacturers, who can very often be located overseas.

I was lucky enough to be floating around between the two rooms taking photos and adding little bits of information to questions being asked. I was so impressed with the quality of the questions that were being asked, it's obvious that everyone has really been working hard on finding out about building. Great work Wanaka Primary!

Worm Farming at Queenstown Primary

I've been really lucky to do lots of work at Queenstown Primary this year. One of the topics that I've done heaps of work on has been with the middle syndicate and them learning about how to deal with organic waste. One of the things they've investigated is worm farms. Now that the weather is finally warming up it was time last week to get their worm farm up and running.

As usual the children were awesome, so enthusiastic and full of energy. To make the most of the great weather, we we all congregated outside and had a quick refresher about worms, how and what we feed them, as well as any other things we could do to make their lives happy.

We found a nice spot under a tree, close to where lunch is eaten, but, also off the beaten track a little. Perfect! Everybody had a go at shredding newspaper, remember it has a grain so will rip vertically really easily but horizontally is a bit of a disaster. After dampening it with some water it is ready to make a nice bed for the bottom of the worm far.

After adding the worms, which have been touring the classrooms over the last few weeks, we gave them some more food from today's lunch. All nicely chopped down to bite size pieces. Covered them up with some more shredded paper and then put the lid on. Simple, fun and a fantastic way to deal with the food waste from lunch times in a responsible way.

Great work Queenstown Primary!

Sketch Up Club - Wanaka Primary

As part of their work on the Eco-Hut challenge the students at Wanaka Primary have started Sketch Up Club during Tuesday lunch times. In case you haven't heard of Sketch Up, it's a 3D modelling software package from Google that you can download for free. You can get it here.

This is a great way to try out any potential designs you may have for anything, from houses to pencils. Once you have gotten used to making different shapes and putting them together to create items then you can assign textures to the surfaces so the look like the material that you intend to make the finished design out of.

Thinking about the Eco-Huts it means that you can not only make a scale model of the hut you intend to build but with a combination of google earth you can place your hut on the intended site and then see how it will look. It is also possible to track sunlight with this, so if you've used any kind of passive solar heating you can check the placement and orientation of the building and ensure it captures the sun light you think it will.

I was absolutely amazed by the quality of the work that some of the Sketch Up Clubbers are producing. Look out Wanaka architects, you have some up and coming competition. I can't wait to go back there in a few weeks to see how they've progressed.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Eco-Hut Inspiration

I thought I'd start adding some links to some Eco-Hut Challenge inspirational web pages. I've just come across and amazing slide show on Tree Hugger. Édouard François appears to design houses / dwellings / buildings with a real integration into nature and using some natural building materials. Pop on over to Tree Hugger to have look.